NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Aaron's 499
Topics: Aaron's 499
May 5, 2013
KERRY THARP: Let's roll right into our post‑race press conference for today's 44th annual Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event here at Talladega Superspeedway, and our race runner up, tying a career‑best finish in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, he was second at Sonoma in 2008, is David Gilliland, and he drives the No.38 Love's Travel Stops Ford, and David, congratulations. Certainly a marathon out there today battling the elements, etcetera, and just being there on that last green‑white checkered. Talk about what went on that last green‑white checkered that allowed you to battle for the win.
DAVID GILLILAND: My crew chief Frank Kerr said you've got to have the restart of your life, and we had a good one. It was dark out there, sprinkling a little bit, dry sweep was on the windshield a bunch. But we got a good restart. Our Love's Ford Fusion was really fast all day, and got hooked up with my teammate there, Michael Waltrip got behind me and was giving me a great shove and had some good momentum. Got hooked up with Ragan there and stayed glued to his bumper and worked our way up there and came home one‑two for Front Row Motorsports. Huge day for any team to get first and second, but for Front Row Motorsports and our little team and what we do it with, we're really proud of that. And Bob Jenkins for sticking with us and doing this deal probably 80, 90 percent out of his own pocket, it's a special day.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations once again. Questions for David.
Q. The fact that it was David and it was so important for Front Row Motorsports, the fact that it was David Ragan in front of you, is that why you were committed to pushing him and not trying to beat him?
DAVID GILLILAND: Well, I was trying to beat him for sure, but we had to get there first. Once I pushed him out to the lead, the 99 was on my side there, and David had kind of got out enough of a lead that I wasn't going to pass him, and then at that point I was just obviously trying to finish second.
You know, we got hooked up. He's a great restrictor plate racer. I've had some great finishes on restrictor plate races in the past, and it just‑‑ I still obviously want to get that first win, but today wasn't the day. But we'll take second for sure, and a first with our teammate, that's a big day.
A lot of it had to do with this little note here, "Good Luck". This is from my daughter, 10‑year old daughter. She wrote that and put it in. It's got a little horseshoe in it. She wrote that and put it on my dash there before the race, so she had some horseshoe good luck earrings in, too, so we'll take that.
Q. What's your daughter's name?
DAVID GILLILAND: Taylor Gilliland. She's been coming to the racetrack her whole life, but she watches it from the motor home.
Q. You've had some good runs in the past, a second at Sonoma in 2008. I believe you were third in the 2011 Daytona 500. Where does this rank with races you've had in the past?
DAVID GILLILAND: It's big. Sonoma is still probably‑‑ well, Kentucky is probably my favorite still, and then Sonoma obviously, that was good. I had Jeff Gordon behind me on a green‑white‑checkered, I think, so that was a great accomplishment. This was right up there with them. Still want that first win obviously but the Sprint Cup Series is very tough, everybody out there racing at this level are awesome, great race car drivers, and it's tough.
And we're up against it every week. There's weeks we don't have enough tires to put on our car so we've got to put scuffs on and everything else and then race against guys that have stickers. We're just continuing to build and for Front Row Motorsports, a one‑two finish and to be there to help make that possible is very special for me.
Q. Do teams like Front Row circle an event like this on the calendar knowing it's a bigger chance for you guys to get a finish like this?
DAVID GILLILAND: For sure, these and the road courses we feel like are our best shots to come and have a legitimate shot at winning. The rest of our program we're still working on and trying to get there. Obviously some day we want to be an organization that can go and compete for wins on a weekly basis, but we're not there yet, so to be able to come to these type of tracks, we definitely put a lot of preparation into‑‑ and a lot of emphasis on our speedway program and today we had two very fast race cars and we were able to come home one‑two.
KERRY THARP: Carl Edwards, our third place finisher, has joined us. He was the driver of the No.99 Fastenal Ford for Roush‑Fenway. He's second in points. Talk about certainly a marathon out there today battling the elements and those kind of things. But talk about the race in general and maybe that last green‑white‑checkered.
CARL EDWARDS: The race in general went really well for us. Practice was great. We got that pole position, and I did get that trophy. I took that from those people. I don't know if I'm supposed to have it but I got it. I never had a trophy from Talladega. Thought we were going to get another trophy, a really big one, and the rain went away and got the track dried, which I was pretty frustrated about that. I was kind of really hoping for rain.
But then the last 60 laps ended up being 60 of the most educational laps I've had at a plate race. I learned a ton, I had a blast, and on the white‑flag lap I thought we were going to win it until I saw these guys coming, and I thought, who is that, and they were coming. I blocked as much as I could. David did everything but spin me out down the back straightaway, was all over the back bumper, and I could feel from the way he was pushing and moving that if I turned to stay across his hood, they went one way and I went the other, I knew I was going to be on the highlight reel for the wrong reasons. These guys got by and we had a one‑two‑three finish for Ford, which is huge, and I know it's huge for these guys and Front Row Motorsports.
As frustrated as I am about the loss I'm really happy for these guys, and it couldn't happen to two better guys and a hard‑working team.
Q. Carl, you just said that your teammates at Front Row, another Ford team, can you put that in perspective what that means for that team, for them to win here, what that means?
CARL EDWARDS: I'd like an invitation to the party wherever it's going to be because I have a feeling it's going to be a pretty big one. You know, I worked for Mike Mittler for a long time and I saw how hard teams have to compete to be competitive at this level. Yeah, I mean, I obviously wanted to win that race very, very badly for a number of reasons, but it truly couldn't happen to two better guys, and from Ford's perspective, Ford got us all together at that event that all you guys were part of down at the Hall of Fame, and they told us this is One Ford. We want to work together. We want the rest of the field to know that Fords are going to be strong because of their ability to work together and share information and help one another on the racetrack, and I think you saw a lot of that today.
The reason we were in a position with our 99 team when the rain came out is because all the Fords came out. I think we were one, two, three, four, and at the end of the race we were one, two, three, and I don't think that's a coincidence. I think there's a lot of really neat things happening right here.
Q. You said those were 60 of the more educational laps you've had. Can you expand on that a little bit?
CARL EDWARDS: I've had a lot of races where I don't get to run the last bit of the race up there in the lead. It's been for a numbers of reasons: Sometimes bad luck, sometimes bad strategy and mistakes, and so for me to race up there with Matt and Jimmie and these guys and have all that pressure and the restarts and green‑white‑checkered and everything that was going on, I think it was pretty good. I not only learned stuff but I am going to remember it. It's burned in there because there's so much pressure right there. Even though it's not a win, I guarantee we'll be pretty good at Daytona and be pretty good when we come back here. There's some things I picked up.
Q. Carl, it's like you lost twice today. Can you sort of talk about that?
CARL EDWARDS: What a great feeling, yeah. (Laughter).
Q. You still come in here with a smile on your face and a third place finish.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I notice Atlanta got a lot of rain today. I saw the radar and saw that.
I guess I've been trying to have a little bit different perspective and I'm fortunate right now because we had the win at Phoenix, we're up there in the points, I've been trying to approach racing lately, it's‑‑ everything is a net positive. I'm getting to do what I love to do, working with people that I'm very fortunate to work with, and at the end of the day, I had a pretty good time and we had a shot to win this thing a couple of times, which is‑‑ a lot of you have seen some of my poor days, terrible days at these places, and that's saying a lot how we ran today. That's why I'm happy, and I'm sure I'll even be better tomorrow. Right now I'm still a little frustrated about not winning, but it's nice to be frustrated about third at Talladega for me.
Q. David, can you talk about what this win means for the organization as far as like what impact it'll have on next week or the week after? You've been part of a small organization that pulled off a big upset in the Busch Series years ago?
DAVID GILLILAND: It's huge. It's huge for Front Row Motorsports. We're working with Ford and a lot of other great partners right now, and we're close on a lot of stuff. We have Love's Travel Stops on the car this weekend, which is a potential to grow into a bigger partnership, and we had a great day today, obviously, and David Ragan, he had some new partners on board, also.
It's big. Anything like this for an organization like Front Row Motorsports or any organization is very big, and so like I said, we're just building on it. We're a little team building, feel like we're getting better each and every week. I feel like this new car has helped us a lot this year be more competitive at every style of racetrack we go to. It's definitely big for us. I know Frank Kerr my new crew chief has a big wish list of parts and pieces for our race cars, trying to make them lighter and faster, and I'm sure he'll get a couple of those, so hopefully that'll help.
Q. Carl, to what degree with your history here did you think Talladega owed you one?
CARL EDWARDS: No racetrack ever owes you anything. I feel I owe all these places in the whole sport a lot. I think I can speak for both of us. No one really ever expects to be at this level. I'll tell you what, not that I thought it owed me one, but I wasn't too sure about that last green‑white‑checkered. I know that could go anyway and I've seen it go real bad. I felt pretty good about the finish. I'd really like this place a lot more if I could get a victory here, but right now I like it okay.
Q. David, I think you restarted 11th and David 8th. How did you find each other on the racetrack, and how dark was it?
DAVID GILLILAND: Yeah, it felt good. We got restarted there, and it was sprinkling, like I said, and it was dark and there was dry sweep on the track so it got on the windshield where it was wet but I could see, and I could see David there and he came down, Michael Waltrip was behind me giving me a good run and just carried a lot of momentum up through there and got hooked up with David and figured he's got the best chance of anybody sticking together with him out there and just worked our way up there.
It got real tight getting into 3 and 4 with Carl there. Like he said, I know David was sideways and out of the gas and Carl was right up on his door, and could have gone a number of ways. But thankfully I just stayed on his bumper. I pushed him all the way through the corners. It's the first time I've ever done that with this car, with these style of cars, because with these type of cars in practice I've pushed people down the back straight and it actually kind of gets underneath that little lip underneath the back bumper cover and I've always been kind of scared getting into the corner as the front car compresses, the back part of the nose doesn't have anywhere to go because the splitter is already on the racetrack.
But I just pushed him all the way around there and Carl about stalled out a little bit and we were just able to carry some good momentum and come home one‑two.
Q. Carl, you were a little bit more frustrated on your radio right after the race. I was curious if you felt David raced you clean?
CARL EDWARDS: No, if I sounded frustrated at David I was definitely not. What I was trying to express is that David just got us. I mean, he just did it. Of course he raced me clean. It's Talladega. As long as I'm not upside down in the fence, I think it was pretty clean. I don't know how you define clean here, but he did his job. He raced me as hard as he could have raced me without wrecking me. I don't think either one of us could have tried any harder without being wrecked, and he got me. So he earned the win.
Q. I don't know if you can answer this, but Brad Keselowski is saying that he thought David Ragan changed lanes illegally on the final restart, went low. Do either of you guys have a perspective on that or any thoughts on that?
CARL EDWARDS: I think David and David both did some illegal stuff and it should go to the third‑place car. I'm going to put that down right now. Third place guy looked like he did everything right.
No, race is over. Trophy is given away. It's done.
Q. Carl, can you talk about the last five, ten minutes of racing? Obviously it's getting darker, it's dicey as it is here, how was it?
CARL EDWARDS: I wish the pace car could have shut off those yellow lights because it was kind of blinding. I was trying to look other places so I wouldn't get blinded by the lights. And then there was a little rain, and fortunately we got‑‑ NASCAR had a test run yesterday with the Nationwide cars, which didn't turn out as clean as our finish, but I think we were right up about the same time. I was really grateful personally that NASCAR let us run that green‑white‑checkered. It had to be a tough call for NASCAR but we could seewell enough ‑‑ the one thing NASCAR did was gave us time to change our visors. I put on a clear visor. I think a lot of people did. So we were all prepared for less light. Just insane. I wish you had heart monitors on all the drivers out there. As it gets closer to the end of the race, it just gets crazy. It's an insane event, and I thought everybody did a pretty good job.
KERRY THARP: Carl, David, congratulations. See you at Darlington.
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